Good work requires hustle.

While I was out with a friend for dinner one night, we were talking about my upcoming travels when she said something that made my heart drop.

“Ever since high school, you haven’t done much with your life. You were 18 when you left and you’re 24 now, and nothing major has happened.” I was left completely speechless and hurt.

I couldn’t shake off that feeling the whole night. It was as if she was saying I have nothing to show for my life, and I was scared that perhaps she was right. It threw me into doubt and insecurity and made me reflect on what did happen in the years after high school.

In those six years I studied at Bible college for two years and found healing from depression; I moved down to Wellington for one rowdy, wild year to study at University and realized that it wasn’t for me; I began The Lilac Road that same year; I experienced my first love and first real heartbreak, and learned a lot about how to grieve and accept pain in the process; I moved back to Auckland and did a counseling course which healed me in so many ways; I took my first ever solo trip to Ireland, Germany and Prague; I separated from my family for the first time and moved out of home where I found love that nurtured me back to health again; I had my first every boyfriend, and though ended painfully, it taught me the beauty of being vulnerable; I skydived and it was one of the happiest moments of my life; and I quit my job, sold my car and brought a one way ticket where I traveled non-stop for four months to eight countries by myself. I am now currently studying to become an English teacher, freelancing as a travel writer which is one of my biggest dreams come true and working a full-time job to prepare for my move overseas at the end of the summer to begin my journey as a digital nomad.

In those six years I have had seven jobs, traveled to 14 different countries and did a whole lot of growing up. I may not have a degree, a car, an apartment or a relationship in the end to show for it, but I have a bank rich of experience. I wondered, though, if that was even enough.

I talked to one of my best friends about what had happened, and to my surprise, I ended up choking up in tears. She said to me, “You know that quote by Mary Oliver, ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ You are living that. Even if you were lying in a hospital bed for six years, you are enough. You don’t need to do more.

Society wants you to tick boxes. It wants you to fit into what is ‘normal success.’ It rejects anything and anyone that is different and strange because it doesn’t know how to deal with it. I have found that in those six years of finding out what makes me come alive that there has been a lot of resistance and shame for who I am and who I want to be. I am working hard and I am pursuing my dreams – but not in a way that is conventional. I can’t tell you how heartbreakingly sad and lonely this off-beaten path has been to travel on, to be met with pity when I tell people my dreams, and to not have support, acceptance and appreciation which I am not afraid to admit that I desperately need. I am afraid to tell people the life I dream of.

I have tried my best and hardest to fit into normality and the paved route in life. I have tried University, I have tried owning a car and an apartment, I have tried being in a relationship and I have tried being in a stable and well-paying job. None of it made me feel happy or alive. I woke up feeling depressed and bitter about life. I have tried, I have tried, I have tried, but that life just isn’t for me.

I am still processing that hurtful comment and giving myself time to accept the path I have purposefully and intentionally chosen in life. I cannot control how people react or respond to me but I can choose to follow or disregard my heart’s calling. Whatever resistance or challenges that come along my way because of it is mine to bear and overcome… because following my bliss? That’s my non-negotiable.

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